South Africa foreign policy

South Africa after Apartheid Regime

Exit in 1994 from the apartheid regime on the basis of the compromise between the National Party (NP) and the African National Congress (ANC), that is, between the party of white supremacy and the hegemonic representation of the black majority with a moderate and multi-ethnic profile (despite the inclusion within it of the Communist Party), the South Africa was faced with problems of extraordinary gravity: the the need for a bloodless transition from an authoritarian and racist regime to a democracy; the creation of a new constitutional order; the need to guarantee economic development characterized by greater social equity; the obligation to ensure public order in a situation of very strong imbalances, which until then had been synonymous with state repression, violent and often illegal, with regard to all forms of protest and opposition. The first years of the new South Africa, the ‘rainbow’ nation which made multiculturalism and multi-ethnicity its constitutive trait, were therefore characterized by a single and precise thread: avoiding catastrophe, the revenge of the oppressed on the oppressor, the uncontrolled explosion of ethnic conflict, not only between Whites and Blacks, but in the same community of color, within which divisions and conflicts had been fueled for years, particularly between the Zulus and the rest of the black population. On the other hand, the clashes and violence immediately exploded with the beginning of the democratization process, between the not only between Whites and Blacks, but in the same community of color, within which divisions and conflicts had been fueled for years, particularly between the Zulus and the rest of the black population. On the other hand, the clashes and violence immediately exploded with the beginning of the democratization process, between the not only between Whites and Blacks, but in the same community of color, within which divisions and conflicts had been fueled for years, particularly between the Zulus and the rest of the black population. On the other hand, the clashes and violence immediately exploded with the beginning of the democratization process, between the Inkhata – the Zulu party chaired by G. Buthelezi – and the ANC, and between the Pan African Congress (PAC) – the separatist party of the Blacks – and the ANC itself, seemed for a few months to confirm the difficult start of a democratic dialectic. The formation of a transitional government that represented the main political forces in a balanced way, the conduct of elections (April 1994), the creation of highly guaranteed parliamentary procedures for minorities, the promulgation – at the same time as the elections – of a provisional constitutional text and the establishment of the Commission for truth and reconciliation, chaired by the Anglican bishop D. Tutu, Nobel Prize for peace, managed to bring the situation back into the bed of democratic confrontation. This result appears extraordinary if we consider the violence exercised by the racist regime for over forty years and the effects of this policy not only on the material conditions of life, but also on the cultural level of a black majority systematically excluded from higher education and to which separate, low-quality primary schools had been set up and therefore frequently deserted. The young generation of Blacks who faced the experiment of democracy was largely devoid of cultural tools other than those of political militancy, often conducted in a strongly antagonistic and militarized key. The international climate, the presence of a vast popular consensus, the behavior of political forces, but certainly and above all N. Mandela, president of the South Africa since May contributed to this result.1994. The figure of Mandela, already charismatic in the very long period of detention, gradually became that of a father of the country, balanced and above the parties, who combined aspects of continuity of the African tradition with those of modernity of a democratic head of state.

In the transition phase, the Commission for Truth and Reconciliation (1995 – 1998) also played an extremely important role, also for its symbolic value: wanted by Mandela, it had the task of drawing up a list of those who, on both the fronts had suffered violence during the apartheid regime, identify the perpetrators of the crimes, amnesty them if they had made a full confession and proved that the crime was committed for political and not personal reasons. The commission thus allowed an entire country to reflect on its recent past, allowed the victims not to feel forgotten and not to consider their sufferings canceled by the policy of institutional compromise with the exponents of the old regime, and at the same time channeled on the terrain of ‘admission of guilt, the recognition of the victims and a consensual moral condemnation, many tensions and many lacerations. Some of the most important exponents of the past regime and the ruling party refused to testify, but this did not decisively affect the role played by the commission because, to some extent, apartheid, it was the individual sufferings that had to find recognition and response. The unusual aspect of the commission can be better grasped when compared with emblematic situations of the past (e.g. the Nuremberg tribunal on the crimes of Nazism), in which the winners stood as judges of the losers and imposed penalties in the name of a own ethics innocent survivor of the conflict. In this case it was the admission of a tragedy shared by the community as a whole, in which there was certainly a wrong and a reason but there was no one who could a priori declare himself innocent, a fact that generated a new ethical innocence on which a new community intended to found its way.

Maintaining the conditions for civil coexistence and compliance with democratic rules made it possible to quickly conclude the constituent phase. The new Constitution of the South Africa was definitively approved by Parliament in October 1996 and promulgated on February 4, 1997. The new constitutional text underlined the defense of individual guarantees, and provided, within a substantially centralistic vision of the state, for the recognition of a limited form of autonomy for the provinces. Legislative power was attributed to two Chambers: the National Assembly, made up of 400 members elected by universal suffrage with proportional method, and the National Council of Provinces, of 90 members, 10 for each Provincial Assembly, in turn elected by universal proportional suffrage. The limited powers attributed to the provinces, especially in matters of education, raised objections especially from the political forces with stronger regional settlements, such as the Inkhata, which refused to participate in the drafting of the final text. Despite this, the approval of the new Constitution marked a further step towards normality, both for the consolidation of a political dialectic based on parties, and for the decision of the NP to leave the government of national unity and to play a role of opposition. constitutional.

On the economic level, the South Africa presented a double set of problems, those linked to insufficient economic development, after a decade characterized by a negative growth rate, and those linked to the presence of very strong social inequalities. The lack of economic growth appeared to be the result of different factors: structural elements concerning the same structure of the production system; flight of domestic capital not compensated by an adequate flow of foreign investment; difficulties in increasing international trade after the slowdown caused by the boycott against apartheid ; narrowness of the internal market from which most of the black population was substantially excluded. The latter, moreover, still in 1994 was in decidedly miserable conditions: 53 % (compared to 2 % of Whites) lived below the poverty line, 80 % of the houses had no electricity, 12 million people were without drinking water, lands allotted were the least productive. The economic plans launched by the government in 1994 and 1996 they represented a vast attempt to revive the economy and at the same time correct social inequalities. The initiatives adopted also aimed at building a climate of trust favorable to investments: in fact, foreign capital was hesitant to move towards South Africa both due to the uncertain economic situation, the relative shortage of skilled labor and the numerous elements of concern raised. the situation of public order.

The latter was not actually reassuring: a murder rate in 1997 among the highest in the world, the very frequent thefts, the extremely widespread private armed surveillance teams. Drug trafficking also tended to expand, while, in a climate of widely perceived insecurity, in some areas of the major urban centers, houses were often transformed into blockhouses. The social tension that arose from the presence, especially in some cities, of a black population of dispossessed, previously excluded and expelled from urban areas, without employment, without housing and therefore without the minimum conditions of survival, certainly contributed to this wave of crime. who coexisted with a white and opulent society with a Western lifestyle. The old rules of an order based on physical coercion and violence were finally gone, but new rules were struggling to assert themselves. One of the most dramatic legacies of apartheid it was also the presence of an entire generation excluded from education, without culture and without professional qualifications, which could not expect any advantage from the development of a society open to the skills and qualities of individuals, a generation that had also lived in a a militarized society for many years in which it was still extremely easy to obtain weapons and ammunition. A reality that clearly emerges in Mandela’s words: “The young people of the black neighborhoods have had an easily identifiable enemy for decades, the government. Now that enemy has disappeared precisely because of the transformation we are experiencing. Now that enemy has become you and I., people who drive a car, who own a house. Their enemy is order, anything that refers to an orderly normality.

In foreign policy, the democratic South Africa immediately gained greater visibility by carrying out an intense diplomatic activity and proposing itself as a mediator in wars and regional African crises. The growth of credit and prestige at an international level among all the major Western powers, of which the South Africa quickly became a privileged interlocutor, was not, however, matched by a similar capacity for intervention in Africa, and the various mediation initiatives undertaken in Angola and in Congo they had no success. A more favorable outcome, with the entry since 1994 in the Southern African Development Community (SADC), had the commitment to expand economic cooperation in southern Africa to promote ever greater integration and stability of the countries of the area. The very questionable armed intervention, conducted under the aegis of the SADC, in Lesotho in September 1998 in support of the ruling party, is explained in this context. For South Africa religion, please check

In a situation of relative political stability, but suffering overall balance, Mandela’s decision not to reapply for the presidency of the Republic, while raising concerns in internal and international public opinion, confirmed the effort of the South Africa to overcome a personalistic vision of power and to continue in the process of democratization. The designated successor was the vice-president T. Mbeki, a militant since adolescence in the ANC, a pragmatic leader, appreciated by the business world, a firm supporter of the need for an African ‘renaissance’. The elections of 2 June 1999 marked a significant victory for the ANC, which with 66 % of the votes won 266 of the 400 seats in the National Assembly, just one seat less than two-thirds sufficient to amend the Constitution and 14 more than those obtained in the 1994 elections. The vote also marked the defeat of the New National Party, the new name of the NP, which obtained just 28 seats compared to the 82 of the previous Parliament, and the success of the Democratic Party, of liberal traditions but presented with a conservative program, which went from 7 to 38 seats. Eventually, the Inkhata conquered 34seats. Such a large victory, if it confirmed the extraordinary consensus of the ANC, also highlighted a possible problem for such a young democracy, that of the opposition’s lack of strength. On June 16, 1999, the National Assembly elected Mbeki President of the Republic according to the forecasts.

South Africa foreign policy